It’s a cold-ass day when Decades/Failures is your go-to band for pounding the pavement; a huddling-under-coat-and-scarf kind of day. Yeah, that’s it – the duo (I think it’s a duo anyway, Adam and Alexis, but correct me if I’m wrong) makes, simply, the crispest, coldest music possible. Darkwave, goth, dream pop – blend it, press it, lathe cut it, pop it in the sleeve, and drop it off at your local record store for dopey suckers like me to purchase. Which, for me, ironically is – Dead Tank Records? Well, maybe it’s Deep Search. Who knows – I can’t be bothered at the moment to look up whether Dead Tank’s distro is a physical location or an Internet phenomenon. Regardless, locals, unite!
It’s never a cold day in Jacksonville, though, am I right? Which makes the presence of Decades/Failures a remarkably refreshing listen on this bright and sunny afternoon. I know that sounds like I’m bordering on oxymoronic, or paradoxical (or one of those) writing, but bear with me. When all you’ve got is sunshine for most of the year, and the inclination is to hit play on Pet Sounds as you shred your little Honda to the beach, sometimes it’s that dark stuff that’s going to really get it done. And that’s why G00DBY3, the second album from the project, is hitting the spot right now. It’s crisp, clangy, frigid, and ultimately standoffish – the opposite of what you should want to listen to, but the exact thing you need once it’s on.
Anyway, these eight tracks don’t veer too far off the damaged electronic/new wave/post punk path blazed so perfectly in the 1970s and 1980s by Joy Division, Bauhaus, and Tubeway Army, and temporarily revived by the inert stylings of mid-2000s bands like Interpol. But, uh, forget I said “Interpol,” because Decades/Failures can barely be compared. First of all, the deep vocals are obscured by layers upon layers of reverb, and hidden in the mix. You can’t tell what they’re saying, and although I can’t make the call about these songs, sometimes it’s for the best. Here, it’s at least for the good, because I’m certainly not cringing at high-school-level poetry. Even if the lyrics are imaginative and taut, and they may be, they’re at least not harshing my buzz. Again, for the good. (The greater good…)
(Actually, they’re posted on the Bandcamp images for the individual songs. I’m not going to read them, obviously – you can if you want.)
Drum machines crack menacingly on all tracks, in almost uniform rhythm, and guitar and bass are heavily treated to perfect 1980s throwback levels. Synthesizers expertly veer in and out of the mix, and once the eight – insular, claustrophobic, anxiety-inducing – songs pass through your headphones, you’ll realize you’ve been holding your breath for about thirty minutes, and potentially on the verge of asphyxiation. Go ahead, breathe deeply – we don’t want you to black out. Or, I don’t know, maybe Decades/Failures does want that. That’s where the darkness is, and that’s where they’ll go. Now, I’m gonna close the shades and hit play again on this one.
RIYL: Joy Division, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy